Conan O’Brien and Sean Penn discuss cancellation of culture calling it “very Soviet” and “ridiculous”

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Conan O’Brien and Sean Penn have talked about canceling culture by doing some kind of informal cost-benefit analysis of what it means for actors telling the important stories of our time.

O’Brien, who recently ended his time as a late-night talk show host after nearly three decades on two networks, had Penn on his podcast, “Conan O’Brien Needs a Friend” , where the duo’s chat led them to discuss canceling the culture and the somewhat new public trend of delisting potentially promising people from past comments.

“I’ve always described myself, I think I’m a 52% optimist,” O’Brien explained. “I believe that everything that happened in the last year is going to inform us in the best way and is going to have a very valuable impact on the arts and is going to make things better and more inclusive. I believe in all of that.”

He continued, “This whole concept of undo culture is, ‘we found out that someone did something in 1979 that was not appropriate now, they died for us. “”

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“This is ridiculous,” Penn interjected.

“What happened to ‘let’s talk about it now.’ People can also be forgiven if they even need to be forgiven,” the comedian added. “It is sometimes very Soviet.”

Penn then referred to Alexi McCammond, the 27-year-old journalist who was ousted from her post as editor of Teen Vogue in March for earlier tweets she posted as a teenager that were offensive to the community. Asian.

Conan O'Brien and Sean Penn discussed the crop cancellation in the latest episode of the late night comedian's podcast.
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Conan O’Brien and Sean Penn discussed the crop cancellation in the latest episode of the late night comedian’s podcast.
(AP / Getty Images)

“When we destroy careers like that, what do we really achieve? Or look at the politicians, I give a big nod to all of those who are willing to step into the public arena who are doing it because they don’t care, ”the Oscar winner added.

The duo’s conversation began with O’Brien praising Penn’s performance in the 2008 movie “Milk” in which he portrayed politician and gay rights activist Harvey Milk. O’Brien noted that the performance helped him connect with the story in a way that none of Milk’s life documentaries have ever done.

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“It brings up an interesting point,” said Penn. “Another one that I think about a lot these days. Today I almost certainly wouldn’t be allowed to play that role. We live in a time when, if you play a gay main character, you’d have to be a gay man or a trans character. And there were those casting issues. “

He added: “When you have a period of evolution which certainly has an opportunity for people who have had fewer opportunities to move forward. It needs to be supported, and yet in this pendulum society in which we’re, you’re wondering at some point if only the Danish princes can play Hamlet. It’s, I think, too restrictive. People look for moments of trap and criticism. “

O’Brien then noted that he felt “uncomfortable” when he thought that people like them in the public eye were being boxed up by people telling them to have a certain point of view or to promote a certain cause at a certain point or risk being on the wrong side of the story.

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“I always find it confusing because if I do something performative that everyone else does, it almost seems like I’m trying to get praise for just having a moral belief, which makes me really uncomfortable. “, he explained.

O’Brien concluded: “The nuance can be erased from things. I’m uncomfortable when I think everyone gets an email that says ‘this is the thing everyone should say today’ hui, especially if you are in the public eye. ‘”

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The pair agreed that their role in the conversation at the moment is simply to listen and believe that the pendulum Penn discussed goes to a Hollywood that is more inclusive and open to experimentation.

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